Palace says no problem so far with hospitals as they can still accommodate COVID-19 patients
Despite the record high cases of coronavirus disease in the country, Malacañang said on Wednesday there is still no shortage of hospital beds.
In an interview by CNN Philippines, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said critical care capacity has not been exhausted yet.
"Despite the fact that the numbers have been increasing, notice that we have not actually exhausted our critical care capacity," he said.
He credited Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega for the "One Hospital Command" where it is operating as if one entity because it refers COVID-19 patients to particular hospitals where there are still available beds.
He noted that the One Hospital Coordination Center has integrated the bed capacity and critical capacity of the adjoining provinces and not just in Metro Manila.
"So far, we had no problems. We've not had to put patients in public places. All hospitals have been able to take in their patients, sometimes there are lines in the ER (emergency room) but they are still being accommodated," he explained.
The critical care capacity is one of the factors being considered by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to determine the quarantine classification of a particular place.
Metro Manila and nearby provinces of Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal are under the modified enhanced community quarantine, a stricter classification, until August 18.
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to decide if those areas will remain under MECQ after August 18.
Roque noted that so far of the nearly 140,000 COVID-19 cases, only few were severe and critically ill.
"The usual fact that only 1.5 percent gets severe and critically ill of the illness and an overwhelming majority, like 98.5 percent of our people, even if they are afflicted with the virus have very mild or asymptomatic," he said.
On the call of opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros that the 7,000 cases a day before should serve as a wake-up call for government to contain the spread of the virus, Roque said the Duterte administration is doing its best to address the problem.
"We recognize that there is a continuing community transmission. And I’d like to point out that we’ve actually done a good job at containing it somehow given that we have the highest population density in Southeast Asia, and I’m talking of Metro Manila in particular," he said.
"And when we talk of very high population density, you’re talking about sometimes in really dense areas where the impossibility of social distancing. So we’ve been able to manage so far," the spokesman added.
Relative to the rest of the world, he said the Philippines is at Number 22.
"But we are not as bad as countries that we consider as role models, including the United States which has not the highest number of cases and the highest number of deaths. And even with countries of our size, like Brazil which is now Number 2 and Number 3 worldwide, we’re still doing a lot better," he said.
On a per density basis, he said in Southeast Asia, Singapore would be Number 1 as it it has 4,000 cases per one million given its small population of six million, while the Philippines is "far second" with about 1,000 cases per million.
"No country in the world is perfect in dealing with coronavirus. And I would say that we’ve done very good so far in containing it and more so in limiting the deaths arising from coronavirus," Roque stressed.
Meanwhile, with a 15-day MECQ in Metro Manila and surrounding four provinces, Roque said the Palace tried to ask the House of Representatives to include in the proposed Bayanihan 2 cash aid for poor families in those areas.
However, he said he was not sure if the House was able to insert it.
"It was not in the Senate version; we try to insert it in the House version but I don’t know if it’s there and I don’t know if it will be approved by the bicam(eral). So, we are not certain, if Congress, of course, provides for ayuda (aid), for Metro Manila and these four provinces then the situation may change," he said.
But he said that as far as Duterte is concerned, the government has used up its budget under the Social Amelioration Program when a lockdown was first imposed in most parts of the country from mid-March to June.
Under enhanced community quarantine and MECQ, the movement of the people is restricted and most industries are closed, leaving many workers with no salary. Celerina Monte/DMS